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@ Guelph

October 17, 2001 By Lori Bona Hunt

Grad Launches Calendar to Promote Breast Health. Forty per cent of net profits will go to breast cancer charity.

U of G graduate Sue Richards wants to get Canadian women thinking more about breast health. “There are 15 million female breast owners in Canada, and breast cancer is a risk for everyone of them,” she says.

Richards is helping to do her part by producing Breast of Canada 2002, a calendar that promotes breast health. It features photos of women of varying ages, shapes and sizes, including Richards and three other Guelph graduates.

“We don’t see images of naked breasts in a heath context enough in our world,” she says.

The calendar, which will be on sale in the University Centre courtyard Oct. 17 to 21, was designed to encourage breast health practice and cultivate positive body image. It includes written and pictorial instructions on how to do a monthly breast self-examination, as well as helpful information about breast health each month. Cost is $24.95, with 40 per cent of the net profit going to Breast Cancer Support Services.

Richards, who founded the Guelph community arts program Art Jam, came up with the idea for the calendar after she realized she was doing her own monthly breast exams incorrectly. She says she was shocked, scared, then angry. "This inspired me to do some breast health and breast cancer research," she says. 

The calendar’s photographs were taken by Guelph artist Melanie Gillis and feature “regular” women ranging in age from 18 to 58. Two of the women were photographed with children, and one posed while pregnant.

“These are just photographs of breasts being breasts,” says Richards, adding that after hitting up all her friends and acquaintances to pose for the calendar, it dawned on her that she should take part in the project as well. 

“I felt very brave afterwards,” she says. “The most profound moment for me was at the printers when my breast was coming through the printing press to the tune of 20,000 copies and they were piling up around me and no one know it was me. I felt like I knew the biggest secret in the world. It was hilarious.”

Richards says the point is that all women should learn to look at their breasts from a health perspective and “make friends” with their bodies. “ A lot of powerful female energy is wasted obsessing over body image.”

Since the calendar’s official launch last month, more than 2,000 copies have been sold. Richards is already planning Breast of Canada 2003.

“We’re not going to be short of models for this one,” she says. “Women are already coming up to me asking if they can be in the calendar.”

For more information, visit the Web site www.breastofcanada.com or call 519-767-0142.